Feb. 23: Houston tension over HFD pension and overtime

By Khambrel Marshall - Meteorologist, 'Newsmakers' Host , Amber Willis

HOUSTON - The city of Houston is underfunded by two and a half billion dollars in its pension obligations. Mayor Parker has sued the Houston Fire Department Pension Board "to get them to the negotiating table" she said.

Todd Clark is the Chairman of the Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund and is one of the guests on this weeks' Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall. Clark says the lawsuit filed by Mayor Parker is an assault against Firefighters and that the Firefighters and paramedics just want to continue to receive what was promised by the City of Houston. "We're not broken," he said.  "We don't need to be fixed. You don't fix something just to say you fixed it."

Also this week's program is Bryan Sky-Eagle the President of Local 341 of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association. The Houston Fire Department is trying to find ways to head off  what could be an 8.5 million dollar deficit in it's budget and cutting overtime is one way to do it. Sky-Eagle says hiring enough firefighters in the first place would cut back on significant amounts of overtime.  "The under staffing for years has caused us to be 500 Plus firefighters down," he said.  "We have an attrition rate of  160 that you cannot match through hiring. So each year this problem gets exacerbated."

While the Houston Fire Department rank and file feel strongly about keeping the system the way it is, Houston Chronicle columnist Bill King says the current system cannot be sustained. "By 2020, it will take 50% of all the property taxes that the city of Houston Collects just to make their payments into the three pension plans," he said.

It is a very informative half hour! Watch Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall Sunday at 10 a.m., right after Meet the Press with David Gregory.

More Information:

Bryan Sky-Eagle, President Local 341-Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association

Todd Clark, Chairman, Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund

Bill King, Houston Chronicle Columnist

Copyright 2014 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.